Chennai: As the city suffers acute water scarcity, educational institutions have emerged as the latest victims to the city's ongoing water woes. An increasing number of private schools has taken to declaring holidays or shortening the duration of classes, citing water scarcity.
In the wake of this, the state education department has warned of strict action against those institutions and a circular was issued to the chief educational officers and district educational officers on Saturday.
The circular reads, “Schools were given the authorisation to function only after they guaranteed safe and adequate water for drinking and other purposes to children. We have come to learn through several media reports that an increasing number of private institutions is shutting down due to 'water scarcity'. This will impact children and is against the rules. It is the duty of the school management to find alternative solutions to the existing water crisis. Strict action will be initiated against the school authorities if this continues.”
Prince Gajendra Babu, an educationalist, notes,” School managements should purchase water immediately and make it available to children if it is available. But it is the responsibility of government to provide a list of water suppliers available in the area. If the school management refuses to procure water even then, action can be initiated.” While government believes that many unscrupulous school managements can duck under the tag of a water crisis tag to keep children at kids home, parents point out that the managements cannot be blamed for not foreseeing a natural calamity such as drought.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, a parent of a child studying in a private school in Chromepet, says,” Neither the school management nor government could have predicted this crisis. Most schools have just shortened working hours and have not shut down completely. They still manage to complete the syllabus before assessments. We prefer this to our children suffering in schools without water.”
Just as it the duty of government to ensure that hospitals function with adequate water supply, it is also government's responsibility to ensure that children, who are extremely vulnerable to ailments, bacterial and viral, are provided with safe water. “Unhygienic water can cause a range of water-borne diseases in children such as diarrhoea, fever, skin infections and serious urinary infections such as urosepsis (a condition where a urinary tract infection spreads from the urinary tract to the bloodstream),” says a paediatrician.
To merely keep classes running when there is not sufficient water to drink will expose the children to the greater risk of infection. That would be an even more disastrous situation....